Staring at the email I could only think, “This has to be a joke.”
But I clicked on the link. It brought me to a website where it was clear that the owner had invested a lot of time – and money – in having the page and product put together.
He was serious.
He was also making a terrible mistake.
The year was 2009. At the time I was providing personal phone coaching to beginner Internet entrepreneurs. If you’ve ever done any business coaching or mentoring, you know that some clients are better than others, and frankly, there is such a thing as a stupid idea.
This was it.
My client had created a website, GetFitWhileIroning.com.
It was, and remains to this very day, the worst idea I have ever heard.
I said to my client, as politely as I possibly could while in a state of utter amazement, “I’m sorry, but this is not going to work.”
“I knew you were going to say that!” he replied with enthusiasm. It was as though he was partly relieved and equally excited that I told him his business idea had no chance.
One of my greatest business regrets is that I never grabbed a screenshot of the website. It no longer exists. It does, however, serve as a precautionary tale for both you and I.
The best ideas are not forced on the marketplace.
That’s the definition of the worst ideas.
When you think the market needs something, you’re bound to fail.
It’s only when you identify what the market wants that you have a chance.
I was reminded of this common mistake during one of our recent Early To Rise Facebook Question and Answer sessions.
Reader Dave M. asked, “Craig, I’m filming two workshops next month to create my first information product. My question is how can I start building up a list now before the workshop so that I can sell the recordings?”
My answer was not at all what he wanted to hear.
“Dave,” I said, “Do not create this – or any – product until you are sure that you can sell it. Do people really want that product or do you just think they need it? If you answer yes to the former, then it could be a success. However, if the answer is no and it’s just something you think people need, then nothing I can tell you about building a list will help you sell the product.”
Dave’s reply was all I needed to hear.
“I personally see a need for this type of education product.”
With that, I encouraged Dave to put this project on hold.
Listen, the world needs a lot of things.
People need more discipline.
People need to take more personal responsibility.
And people need me in their house 24 hours a day so that I can kick them in the butt when they are slacking or hitting the snooze button.
But very, very few people want these things, and even fewer would be willing to pay for them.
What people need and what people want to buy are often worlds apart.
Don’t make the mistake of forcing your needed product on an uninterested marketplace.
Sure there are exceptions to this rule, like when genius Steve Jobs famously created the iPod without a care about what the customer wanted.
But guess what?
You’re no Steve Jobs.
It’s much wiser for you to stick to the tried and true formula espoused by our mentor Mark Ford. Writing under his pen name, Michael Masterson, in the most practical business book you will ever read, “Ready, Fire, Aim“, Masterson gives us this sage advice:
“Just about everything people buy is based on what they want, not what they need. Our needs are simply food, water, and shelter.”
Even our needs, as Masterson says, are based on our wants. “We want a certain type of bread, a specific brand of bottled water, and a house in a desired neighborhood.”
“Recognizing that you are in the ‘want’ business will help you become a better marketer and salesperson, because you will recognize that you have to create ‘want’ in your customers’ hearts,” Masterson adds with this warning, “Many first-time marketers make the mistake of creating sales campaigns that are logical and rational: X number of ways their product is better than someone else’s. If your product really is a necessity, like heating oil, you could get away with that type of pitch. But that won’t work for most products, because it doesn’t do what copy has to do when you are selling wants – and that is to stimulate emotions.”
“You have to stimulate emotions that will help you sell your product. To create those emotions, you need to get potential customers thinking about how your product is going to enhance their lives.”
Here’s what Dave – and you – should do when planning your next product to sell.
First, choose a specific marketplace.
Second, investigate what the biggest ‘wants’ and problems are in the marketplace that can be solved with a quick-and-easy to create product.
Third, spend an hour or two writing out thirty big benefits that the product will deliver to the customer. Benefits include making the customer’s life easier, giving them status, making them money, or helping them lose weight.
Fourth, create a sales message based on the biggest “Big Idea” benefit from the list.
“You will find that the most successful advertisements are those that highlight a single benefit above all the rest. When this benefit can be presented as uniquely characteristic of your product (your USP), you have an advertising proposition that can last and last and last,” Masterson says in his book.
Fifth, and finally, create the product. Start with a low-priced entry-level product that is easy to sell (not a set of high-priced DVD’s recorded at a workshop).
When you follow these steps, you’ll save yourself months, if not years, of heartache and frustration that you would have experienced had you tried to force your product on the market.
It might not seem as exciting as selling what you think the world needs, but it will be much more effective.
Tomorrow, we’ll get more advice from Michael Masterson’s book, “Ready, Fire, Aim” on the best way to sell your new product idea to the marketplace.[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with a web-based business that you can operate from anywhere in the world – including a coffee shop, your kitchen table, or anywhere around the world where there is Internet access. Discover how you can achieve the American Dream and your financial independence here. You’ve never seen anything like this before.]